Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Just as children who "want to be the focus of our attention" and play by their rules and not ours, the Child Jesus shows us that before him, "we are called to abandon our claims to autonomy and instead embrace the true form of freedom, which lies in knowing who it is that is before us and serving Him".
Contemplation of the Child Jesus was "the core" of catechesis that the Pope addressed to the 15 thousand people present in St Peter's Square for the last general audience of the year, on a day, but “somewhat chilly” day as Francis noted while he also asked for prayers for the victims of the disasters that have hit Britain, the United States and Paraguay "causing casualties unfortunately, many displaced and extensive damage".
Earlier in his reflections he had noted that “in these days of Christmas we place ourselves before the Child Jesus. I am sure that in our homes many families have made the crib, carrying on this fine tradition that dates back to St. Francis of Assisi and that keeps the mystery of God made man alive in our hearts".
"Devotion to the Child Jesus is widespread. Many saints have cultivated this in their daily prayer, and they wanted to model their lives on that of the Child Jesus. I am thinking in particular of Saint Theresa of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took the name of Teresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She - who is also a Doctor of the Church - was able to live and witness to that spiritual childhood that means meditating, following the school of the Virgin Mary, the humility of God who for our sake became a child. This is a great mystery, God is humble! We who are proud, filled with vanity and believe ourselves great, we are nothing! He, the Great One, is humble and becomes a child. This is a real mystery! God is humble. How beautiful this is".
"There was a time when, in the divine-human person of Christ, God was a child, and this must have its own special meaning for our faith. It is true that his death on the cross and his resurrection are the ultimate expression of His redeeming love, but we must not forget that all his earthly life is revelation and teaching. During the Christmas season we remember his childhood. To grow in the faith we need to contemplate the Child Jesus more often. Of course, we do not know anything about this period of his life. The few indications we possess refer to the imposition of his name eight days after his birth and his Presentation in the Temple and also the visit of the Magi with the consequent flight into Egypt.
Then, there is a great gap up to twelve years, when Mary and Joseph go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, and instead of returning with his parents he stays in the Temple to talk to the scribes".
"As you can see, we know little of the Child Jesus, but we can learn a lot from him if we look at the lives of children. It is a good habit for parents, grandparents, to look at the children, what they do. We find out, first of all, that children want our attention. They must have our focus why? Because they are proud? No! Because they need to feel protected. Thus we too need to focus our lives and to know Jesus, although it may seem paradoxical, we have a responsibility to protect Him. He wants to be in our arms, He wants to be cared for and be able to fix his gaze on ours. What’s more, we should bring a smile to the Child Jesus to show him our love and our joy because He is in our midst. His smile is a sign of love that gives us the certainty of being loved. Children, finally, love to play. To play with a child, however, means abandoning our logic to take on theirs. If we want to have fun we need to understand what pleases them, and not be selfish and make them do things that we like. It is a lesson for us. Before Jesus, we are called to give up our claim to autonomy - and this is the crux of the problem, huh ?: our claim of autonomy – and instead to welcome the true form of freedom, which is to know who is before us and serve Him. He, this child, is the Son of God who comes to save us. He came among us to show us the face of the Father rich in love and mercy. Let us embrace in our arms the Child Jesus, let us put ourselves in His service: He is the source of love and serenity. It will be a good thing, today, when we go home, to go to the crib and kiss the baby Jesus and say, 'Jesus, I want to be humble like you, humble like God', and ask him for this grace".